(Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
It’s finally here. After arguably the biggest off-season in NBA history – Lebron’s Decision, Jim’s Decision, etc – Day 1 of the new season has arrived. A breath of fresh air.
- The Lakers second unit is much better than last season. It’s taken only one game to see that. Obviously Shannon Brown isn’t always going to shoot 4/5 from long range, but you can tell he’s improved and he’s playing with more confidence. More balls. He was stepping into threes late in this game that last season he would have passed off, or looked around hesitantly for Kobe. Steve Blake also made a huge difference – in our winners prediction post I had him down as my candidate for 6th Man Award, but I changed it to George Hill at the last minute. My reasoning was that with this star-studded Lakers starting lineup, it would be impossible for anyone to make a big enough impact of the bench to win the award. Now, you might think Steve Blake isn’t always going to shoot 3-4 from distance, play 22 minutes, and be on the court in crunch time thanks to Fisher struggling. But when you think about it… Fisher is going to have plenty of average nights, he’s old, and he can’t defend most point guards in the league. Blake will get his minutes. He will also get his open looks thanks to Kobe and Gasol. And when he’s played 20-25 good minutes, and he’s stroking those threes, do you really think Phil is going to pull him out in crunch time for Fish? Of course not. Damn you George Hill.
- Having a point guard is helpful. This is the harsh reality Miami will have to deal with this season, especially when they’re up against uber PGs like Rondo. God he was good today. Not often a player shoots 2-9, scores 4 points and still controls the game, but he controlled it alright, as if the ball was part of his own nut-sack. The Celtics only made 7 shots in the first quarter – Rondo made the first one and assisted on the other 6. Incredible, even if it was fairly woeful basketball to watch.
- Practice is different to real life. Not that Super Coach Eric Spoelstra is aware of this. In trying to explain his team’s sub-par opening game, he serves up this pearler of an explanation: “In practice, it looked a lot different than this”. Ladies and Gentlemen, the head coach of your future NBA dynasty!
- Ray is still Ray. Clutch.
- I really do hate the Miami Heat. I didn’t plan to. I actually didn’t resent Lebron as much as most when he made his decision. I’ve always liked Wade, and I haven’t nothing against Chris Bosh. But watching the replay of this game, I found myself desperately wanting to see them lose. The chants of “overrated” were awesome. The possibility of a 30-point blow out was all too delicious to ignore. But why? More than likely it’s jealousy because I know they will become very good by the end of the season – all the great teams earn that kind of fan reaction. But it did surprise me, because I’m not a hater, by nature. I’ll monitor this closely…
- JT is looking like a bit of a genius for picking Nicolas Batum as Most Improved. He did, two days ago. Batum went off for 19 points on 8-17 shooting, hit a couple of timely threes, and also pulled down a team-high 11 boards. If the Blazers get anywhere near 19 points regularly from Batum it gives them a scarily well-balanced offense, enough to warrant some of the guys putting the Blazers 2nd and 3rd out West.
- Every game Kevin Harlan commentates now feels like I’m playing NBA 2k10. It’s ridiculous. He commentates live games exactly the same way he commentates in the video game. I can’t tell if he’s even there. I’m pretty sure in today’s Lakers game they just had Reggie Miller sitting next to an Xbox on the sidelines. Am I the only one who’s affected by this?
What did you learn, people?